Birding in Prince Edward County in Mid May 2018

It was a very long winter here in Ontario and we were all longing for the coming of spring. Spring took it’s time but finally pushed its way in. We were teased with some warm weather in March and some of the migrating birds made an early comeback compared to previous year averages. The Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds arrived first as usual. Sparse sightings of Ospreys, Great Blues and Cormorants soon followed. Then there was a lull in the migration as the colder weather set in.

Finally, as the temperatures began to improve, the migration kicked off again with flocks of sparrows arriving in good numbers. Song Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows started arriving. We had record-breaking numbers of White-throated and White Crowned Sparrows in our backyard in early May. The singing was so amazing to hear.

White-crowned Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

With the reports of more migrants on the way, we decided to take time off work and spend a few days birding in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Sandbanks Provincial Park and Prince Edward County. Like many birders, we aimed to seek out the colourful warblers. Nevertheless, we find the other migrating birds just as exciting. Even the infamous Brown-headed Cowbird was great to see as we took advantage of the photo opportunities.

Warbler sightings included Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Northern Parula, Tennessee, Nashville, Cape May, Yellow-rumped and Black & White. Also, Common Yellowthroat and American Redstart. We saw a few Canada Warblers and a Wilson’s, but could not manage any decent images either of those rarities.

Cape May Warbler Eating Nectar

Blackburnian Warbler (female)

Other notable birds included: Orchard and Baltimore Orioles; Willow, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers; Philadelphia, Warbling, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos; Wood-peewees, Eastern Phoebes, Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Swainson’s Thrush, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a variety of swallows. Among the frog calls, we heard Common Loons, Wilson’s Snipes and American Bitterns. Another nice surprise was our first identifiable sighting of a Lincoln’s Sparrow.

May birding can be hard work, as we would get up at 4:45am each morning. During the day, we would hike an average of 12 to 15km and drive about 250km to the birding locations. Photography was very challenging as well not only because of the usual erratic behavior of most small birds, but also the harsh light conditions from days of full sun. I spent over an hour trying to get a decent image of the Black-throated Blue Warbler and, yet, he remains to be one of my nemesis birds.

For us as nature enthusiasts, May is the most exciting month. Wildflowers blooming, birds singing, butterflies emerging; and with another week left, we can’t wait to get back out there.



Nashville Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Northern Parula

Acadian Flycatcher

Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)

Eastern Towhee

Blackburnian Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler (female)